Be thoughtful—The romance of a lover’s getaway begins in the planning stages. Make sure to pick a destination that both you and your significant other will love: If you can’t get enough of the mountains but your partner adores the beach, pick a place like Santa Barbara where you can get a little bit of both. Also, as with any trip, consider the time of year and weather for your destination. Valentines Day may seem like a romantic time to travel, but February is winter in the Northern Hemisphere and a little rain could dampen the mood.
Consider transportation—Set the tone for an extra special trip by opting for a more luxurious mode of transportation. Book the higher class ticket, hire a town car instead of a taxi to whisk you from the airport to your hotel, or, if you’re renting a car, go for something a little sexier—everyone loves a red convertible!
Keep business and pleasure separate—The key to making any trip extra romantic is to make it all about the two of you. Make sure no one can interrupt you by turning off your email, forwarding your calls, and clearing your mind. Nothing takes a trip from extraordinary to ordinary faster than “a quick call from work.”
Treat yourselves—Now is not the time to be thrifty. Make things really special by opting for the splurge: Go for the fancier restaurant or the more expensive bottle of champagne. Even if it’s just a small upgrade, choosing to indulge will make even the little moments celebrations.
Be spontaneous—Of course a little bit of planning is always important but the most memorable trips are the ones that leave room for spontaneity. Get lost in the moment, turn down that little side street because it looks quaint, eat at that unnamed and unrated café simply because the owner is standing outside and just cried out that you make “such a beautiful couple.” You never know what will come along and those unexpected moments can make the best memories.
Savor the moment—Romantic trips shouldn’t be about rushing through an itinerary, they should be about slowing down and enjoying every minute. Search for scenic overlooks and the best people-watching parks to lounge around. And always make sure you take time to watch the sunset, be it from a chic rooftop bar or a riverside with a bottle of wine.
Seek out couple-friendly activities—Sign up for cooking classes, dance classes, couples massages, or museum tours that emphasize romantic art or stories, even if they may seem clichéd. Partaking in an activity that you can’t do alone and isn’t the same with a group gives you a different way of seeing your destination and gives you and your partner something special to share. Plus, it’s always nice to reinforce the reason for your trip: You’re a couple, enjoy it!
Have someone else take pictures—This one may seem obvious, but in the age of selfies, we tend to be a bit reticent when it comes to asking for help. But pictures are memories when you’re on vacation, so avoid coming back with a pile of photographs taken at arm’s length of two faces squished together in a frame too small to show any of the background. Just ask! We suggest looking for whoever has the fanciest camera and asking that person.
Remember your memories—You may not be returning to a place that you visited before as a couple, but mixing cherished memories with new experiences makes them all the more special. Maybe your first date was a walk through a park—so find a botanical garden to explore on vacation. Order a bottle of the same wine you two drank on your first anniversary. Even something as small as listening to “your song” through shared headphones during a train ride can make the moment significant.
Choose your keepsakes carefully—Skip the cliché souvenirs and instead focus on finding the kind of gifts that also serve as memories: artisan jewelry or leather goods, a good vintage of wine from a winery you did a tasting at, locally made kitchen tools to prepare a recipe you learned at a cooking class. Seek out the kinds of well-made items that you can use often and which will help you re-live the trip and the romance for years to come.